State Judge Certifies Class in Suit Against Jenny Craig

, New York Law Journal

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Current and former employees of Jenny Craig weight loss centers in New York who allege they were charged for lunch breaks they never took have won class certification in a lawsuit in state court.

Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Anil Singh (See Profile) ruled on Oct. 24 in Weinstein v. Jenny Craig Operations Inc., 105520/11, that the 751 non-managerial employees had shown that their claims had enough in common to be decided by a class action.

The employees allege that since 2005, weight loss center directors changed their time cards to reflect 30-minute lunch breaks that the employees never took. They claim that the breaks were added to comply with a company-wide policy, but that the directors actually encouraged the employees to work through lunch.

Jenny Craig argued against certification, saying that plaintiffs' case was based on the "anecdotal evidence of a handful of employees" and that the alleged conduct was not widespread. However, Singh ruled that this argument went to the merits of the plaintiffs' case, making it premature at the class certification stage.

"To the extent defendant has challenged the credibility of plaintiffs' affiants and deponents, it has merely raised issues to be determined by the trier of facts," he ruled.

"We thought it was a very well-reasoned decision," said Lloyd Ambinder of Virginia & Ambinder, who represents the plaintiffs. "The judge immediately recognized that the defendants tried to attack the merits of the case rather than the underlying motion for class certification."

Ambinder said he believed the damages would be between $2.5 and $2.8 million, based on representations made by Jenny Craig in an unsuccessful attempt to move the case to federal court.

Michael Volpe of Venable, who represents Jenny Craig, could not be reached for comment.

 

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